I've been teaching intro courses of one form or another for a couple of years now, so I'm gonna share a few tips on how to endear yourself to the average instructor. My hope is that if you're on hackerspace/lifehacker, you're probably the sort of proactive student who's gonna read 'em and go "duh".


1. Read the syllabus and browse the class site

Always look at the resources your professor has provided. An absurd amount of student questions are answered in the syllabus or slides or other resources that the professor has posted. It's totally okay if the resources haven't answered the question, but the email to the professor/question on piazza should read something like "I'm unclear about X, discussed on the slides/in lecture using terminology Y", not "Hey, tell me everything about X." Mostly 'cause otherwise the professor/students trying to help will likely just point to their resources/use the same terminology, and that doesn't help anyone.

2. Follow instructions

If the professor says something like put all nouns in bold, it's likely because the grader they're using needs nouns to be in bold. It may seem silly or frustrating, but put nouns in bold for a passing grade. Go over instructions with a fine tooth comb and triple check, because very very few professors will be sympathetic to a student who lost points because they did not follow instructions.


3. Put in at least some effort

This ties into 1 and 2, but caring (or at the least pretending to) goes a long way. Don't tell a professor "I'm only taking the class 'cause it's required" because even if this is true, what do you expect a professor to do with this knowledge? Don't tell a professor "I was absent yesterday, what did I miss?" 'especially when the notes are posted online... Essentially, don't make the professor feel like they're expending more effort on your grade than you are.


4. Don't ask "will this be on the exam?"

Most professors die a little inside when they hear this question. The answer is always yes, unless it's no and most professors will make a note of that in the syllabus/slides/during the lecture. The exception (of course there's an exception) is that it's usually OK to ask about very very specific thing Y that's not really on the syllabus, but that's about it. As a general rule though? If it's on the syllabus, it's fair game.


5. Don't say "I need to pass"

So does just about everybody else taking the class.